BYU is coming off a tough loss to an SEC team; a Missouri squad that BYU coaches and players felt they probably should have beaten to come away from Arrowhead Stadium with a win. With the sour taste of that game in their mouths, the Cougars look to get back on track against Fresno State.
“We’re excited and we’ve been able to learn a lot from Missouri, and be able to look at some of the positives that we took away from the film,” said BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum. “So, we’re excited as an offense to get back to practice. As a team we’re high-energy and up-tempo. A lot of what we’re doing is what we can control.”
Having watched Fresno State film, Mangum sees a Fresno State secondary that's similar to San Jose State, which gave BYU’s offense fits.
“Fresno State, you know, they’re an athletic secondary,” said Mangum. “Kind of comparable to San Jose State, but more than anything we’re focusing on what we can control, so, you know, we’re focusing on our tempo and being more sharp as an offense. It’s been upbeat so far and we’re excited.”
Mangum has grown to appreciate the senior playmakers on the Cougar offense simply because he’s had to lean upon their strength early in his college career. To know this will be their last game is a somber thought for Tanner Mangum.
“It’s tough when you think about it like that,” said Mangum. “Not because of football but because of who they are. You know Mitch (Mathews), Kurt (Henderson), Devon (Blackmon), and Terenn (Houk). It’s a bummer and one of those things you know is going to happen and you know is going to come, but sometimes you just have to push it off. But, you know, it’s just more motivation to keep working hard and make the most of the season. We still have a lot of football left and three games. We can’t start thinking of the end right now but just making the most of every opportunity, making the most of every practice. You got to enjoy them while you can.”
Senior wide receivers Mitch Mathews, Devon Blackmon, Kurt Henderson, and Terenn Houk played a vital role in the confidence building process of Tanner Mangum. When the program was placed on his shoulders, they came to his aid providing confidence which allowed Mangum the platform to grow quickly.
“It’s hard to put in words just how crucial they’ve been,” Mangum said. “I mean, just for me personally coming back from my mission in June I was able to come in and I could feel a difference from when I was here before my mission. I think a lot of that came from the senior leadership, because when I left they were sophomores coming up.
“When I came back there was a difference feel throughout the team, and a lot of that started with them. Their leadership in the way they handled workout, the way they handled player-run practices, the way they kept everyone united and together, it was a huge difference. They’ve taken it upon themselves to become more unified, so we have to do our best to continue on with that legacy. I can’t be more grateful with how they’ve helped me transition back in to playing again.”
As always senior quarterback Taysom Hill will be standing on the sidelines to support Mangum, giving advice and acting as an extra pair of eyes. Hill has also played a large part in Mangum's quick growth as well.
“He’s there on the sidelines during the games, and he’s there to offer some advice when he sees certain things,” said Mangum. “You know, he lets me know of things he’s seeing on the field. Then there’s his presence there and guys feel it and know he’s there. I know his rehab is going well and he’s getting better. I don’t know much beyond that, but whenever he’s around you notice it.”
As is customary on senior night for the last game at LaVell Edwards Stadium, senior players are given blankets. Taysom Hill will receive a blanket as a senior. However, the question of whether or not he’ll return for next season is still up in the air. If he Hill does return, it’s undecided how this even will play out for Mangum next season.
“I don’t know and I haven’t gotten that far yet and haven’t really and haven’t really thought about it,” said Mangum. “Just during the season there’s so much going on each and every day that you don’t have time to think about off-season preparation and things like that. So, I’m not sure yet and we’ll see. That’s something that we’ll cover down the road. I have no idea and I haven’t talked to him about it, so right now I’m just focused on the game really.”
Unlike in the Missouri game, BYU’s offense will have the full strength of their offensive line back for the Fresno State game that will aid them in their quest of going undefeated at home. This return to front line normalcy, as well as implementing some new offensive packages this week, has Mangum excited for this Saturday’s contest.
“It’s nice. Yeah, it’s great to have everyone back and healthy,” said Mangum. “That’s a huge part of our offense and everything starts up from and with them. Without them we have a tough time moving the ball, so it’s good to have them back and we’re doing pretty well so far this week. We’re putting in some new packages and new personnel groups, so we’re excited for another opportunity and chance to play.”
Along with the return to full strength along the offensive line, the potential return of senior receiver Terenn Houk to the offense also provides a positive vibe. For Mangum, Houk’s return is big for the offense.
“Oh it’s huge! Terenn is a big part of our offense, and I love having him in there,” Mangum said. “When he’s out you notice it. You know, you miss him. So, it’s good having him back in practicing with us. He makes my job easy. I can throw it anywhere near him and he’ll make the catch and make a play on it. So, it’s good having him back because it allows us to be even more versatile as an offense and allows us to spread the ball around even more.”
There’s no doubt that Mangum’s sudden burst onto the college big stage has placed his future in good hands. He’s accomplished so much in such a short time. However, there is still one unresolved issue yet to be achieved, and that is getting senior wide receiver Devon Blackmon a touchdown. If Blackmon does score a touchdown there’s a good chance BYU fans could see some smooth moves in the end zone in which Mangum could join in.
“Devon always has some kind of dance moves. He’s always dancing around just grooving listening to his music,” Mangum said with a chuckle in his voice. “I’m sure he’ll want me to join in on some dance move he’s got. We’ll see. I’ll have to talk to him before the game.”
So if Blackmon does score a touchdown will Mangum join in on the dance?
“If he asked me too, I’ll do what I can,” Mangum said laughing. “I might not be as good as him but anything to join in on the fun with him.”